Tilt Table Study

A tilt table study assists your doctor in determining the cause of lightheadedness or fainting spells, also known as syncope. Vasovagal syncope or neurocardiogenic syncope occurs when there is transient failure of the body to maintain adequate blood pressure, which results in inadequate blood supply to the brain. Vasovagal syncope is usually considered to be a benign condition and may occur in completely healthy individuals. It does not cause or predispose a patient to a heart attack; however, serious injuries may occur from automobile accidents or falls.

The tilt table study is a diagnostic test used to help a physician determine why a patient has been having sudden drops in blood pressure, causing syncope. Heart rhythm and blood pressure are carefully monitored while a patient rests on a special table. The table “tilts” the patient upright at a 70-80 degree angle for 30-45 minutes.

Preparing for your Procedure:

  • Do not eat or drink anything for at least 6 hours before the test.
  • Ask your physician if you should take your usual medications.
  • Bring the order for your procedure (paperwork from your physician) with you to the hospital.
  • Please bring your medications to the hospital.
  • Allow 1 – 4 hours for your visit with us.

 When You Arrive:

  • You will check in at registration on the first floor just inside the main entrance.
  • Give your order for procedure (in the paperwork from your physician) to the registration clerk.
  • The registration clerk will ask you a few questions in order to update your information in the computer. Be sure to bring your insurance card with you if you have one.
  • The registration clerk will give you directions on how to get to the cardiology department on 2nd floor.

 During the Procedure:

  • You will be asked to sign a consent form. A staff member will be available to explain the procedure or answer any questions.
  • You will be asked questions regarding your medical history.
  • Sticky patches (electrodes) will be attached to your chest in order to monitor your heart rate and record a baseline electrocardiogram (EKG). A baseline blood pressure will also be recorded.
  • You will be asked to lie flat on a table, and an IV will be inserted.
  • Straps will be placed around your chest, abdomen, and legs to prevent you from falling, should you faint.
  • Your heart rate and rhythm, blood pressure, and oxygen levels will be monitored during the test.

 Phase One:

The table will be slowly tilted seventy degrees so you will be standing almost upright. You will remain in this position for forty minutes or until symptoms (slow heart rate or low blood pressure) occur. If the first phase is negative, the cardiologist will decide if you will proceed to Phase Two.

 Phase Two:

  • Nitroglycerine may be given under the tongue to elicit the symptoms you have experienced at home, or an IV infusion of (Isuprel) a medication will be given to increase your heart rate as if you were exercising.
  • Once your heart rate increases approximately 20-30 beats above your baseline, you will be tilted to 70 degrees for 20 minutes or until symptoms occur.

You need to inform the nurse of any symptoms you may notice during the procedure. Symptoms that are common include nausea and vomiting, sweating, lightheadedness, a cold clammy feeling, or faint feeling. If you develop symptoms, the tilt table will be returned so that you are lying flat.

 Post Procedure:

  • You will be monitored until you can return to a sitting position without symptoms. After the test is complete, the supervising cardiologist will discuss your test with you.
  • If no further immediate treatment is necessary, you will be discharged.

If you have any questions about this procedure or need to locate a cardiologist, you may call our cardiology department at (252) 384-4703.